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#1 william

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 09:56 AM

Shelly is fairly new to us, We believe she is a Horsefield about ten years old. She is 14cm long. We hibernated her this winter( her first time) and all went well until she came out of hibernation. She got an viral infection and had a course of antibiotics at the vet. Her nose was bubbling and she did not eat. Now about six weeks on her infection seems to have cleared and she is eating and fairly active. I have been giving her baths most days and sometimes adding marmite (on the vets advice) Her weight is not going up however which worries me. Yesterday she ate nothing but today is eating. She came out of hibernation at 930g and has now fallen to 840g. How concerned should I be? She is living in the plastic box that she arrived with(73cm x 43cm) and has a warm spot at one end (30 degrees underneath). We sometimes put her in the garden on a warm day but  finds a cold corner and head plants. She does not seem to want to bask in a warm spot to get going but to head for the cold. Although I do not like to see her in a confined space I suspect she does better there than outside. I have never had a tortoise before and am ignorant as to their behaviour, this has been a steep learning curve! Any advice from experienced owners would be very helpful....



#2 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 05:37 PM

Hi William. I think you would be right to be really quite concerned as that is a lot of weight to lose. 

 

Make sure that the warmest point is at least 35C with room to move away from the warmth to an area at about 20C. These are air temperatures I'm referring to.

 

Antibiotics work best on tortoises if they are warm 24/7 and I'm a bit surprised your vet didn't already say this.

 

At this time of year outdoors conditions can be tricky. It can seem warm to us but the ground might be cold and damp. If this was my tortoise I would not put it outside unless I was sure that ground conditions were warm and dry and that it was gaining weight. Letting this tortoise get cold will stress it physically and I'd suggest avoiding that at all costs.

 

Going into the planted area of your garden is probably a safety move on the part of the tortoise, but in avoiding the open it is also out of the sun and not warm enough in the shade. Lots of tortoises that haven't been outdoors very much behave in this way so it might have nothing to do with the illness. 

 

Can I ask what you are feeding? In this situation there is no need to worry about the tortoise eating 'too much'. If it will eat, feed it until it stops. Normally I would not say this, but in cases of severe weight loss like this you could consider using a commercial food like Mazuri Exotic Leaf Eater.

 

I don't keep horsfields but a lot of the conditions for hermanns are very similar. 

 

Instead of using marmite I suggest you use Reptoboost : http://www.vetark.co...Reptoboost.aspx

 

This stuff was developed for debilitated reptiles which is what you have there. It can't do any harm and it might help. It contains electrolytes and other things that your tortoise might be lacking.

 

I think most of us on here are against heat mats and say that a tortoise should be heated and lit from above and require a uvb source. 

 

This lamp works well and doesn't cost a fortune : http://www.bluelizar...bs/844046003867

 

Are you using a heat mat? Most of us don't like them, but don't stop using that until you have a good overhead heat source. I doubt the heat mat caused the problem but I suggest it's not the best way to go.

 

I use a thermometer with an infra red beam to measure the temperature. I like this one which is £15   http://www.reptiles....ter-464180.html

 

The advantage of this is that you can measure the surface of the tortoise and/or whatever it is sitting on. The tortoise mostly won't eat unless it and whatever it is sitting on is above 32C.

 

If this was my tortoise I definitely wouldn't hibernate it come the autumn no matter what happens in the next 6 months. If it does gain weight it will still have an underlying vulnerability. But lots of keepers here are very enthusiastic about hibernation and their views are just as well informed as mine, or perhaps more.

 

Please do let us know how you get on.



#3 Guest_Stella_*

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 06:09 PM

Hello William, I do not keep Horsefield Tortoises, but from what I understand they are a species that like to dig loads. I am a bit concerned that the indoor enclosure you have Shelly in is way too small for her needs particularly at the age she is. It would be helpful if you could post a picture as our more experienced members could identify the species of Shelly.
If she was my tort I would try and get her outside as much as possible even though as you say she heads for the shade......I am sure she would get used to her new environment. Do you have a plan for an outdoor enclosure? Or is she able to be outdoors safely in your garden?
I would also move the heat mat....tortoises should not have heat from underneath, or that is something I have always believed. Barney may be a more experienced keeper than me, but that is my understanding, that ALL heat should be from above.
I know some forums would suggest supplementing bathing water with such things as marmite. I am not sure about this as I also know additives like 'red bull' into bathing water can be harmful. I have never heard of marmite as a beneficial addition to the bathing water and would be interested to know how this can be of benefit x x x hugs x x

#4 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 08:06 PM

I agree with Stella that the heat should be provided from above. I just didn't want this tortoise to be without heat until William gets a better source sorted out.



#5 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 09:56 PM

Shelly is fairly new to us, We believe she is a Horsefield about ten years old. She is 14cm long. We hibernated her this winter( her first time) and all went well until she came out of hibernation. She got an viral infection and had a course of antibiotics at the vet. Her nose was bubbling and she did not eat. Now about six weeks on her infection seems to have cleared and she is eating and fairly active. I have been giving her baths most days and sometimes adding marmite (on the vets advice) Her weight is not going up however which worries me. Yesterday she ate nothing but today is eating. She came out of hibernation at 930g and has now fallen to 840g. How concerned should I be? She is living in the plastic box that she arrived with(73cm x 43cm) and has a warm spot at one end (30 degrees underneath). We sometimes put her in the garden on a warm day but  finds a cold corner and head plants. She does not seem to want to bask in a warm spot to get going but to head for the cold. Although I do not like to see her in a confined space I suspect she does better there than outside. I have never had a tortoise before and am ignorant as to their behaviour, this has been a steep learning curve! Any advice from experienced owners would be very helpful....


Hi William, I have kept and bred horsfields for many years. Firstly you need to be sure Shelly is horsfield as their care is slightly different to Med torts. I'm not sure who your vet is, but would be wary of giving marmite as there is nothing there that is going to help a tortoise, being yeast based. Shellys enclosure needs to be very much larger than what she is using at present and very deep in substrate as horsfields are a burrowing species, which is vastly different to just digging. If she can't do this she will become stressed and this is when illness takes over. Feel free to have a look at my website re horsfields as its quite involved and will are a long time to put pointers here www.tortsmad.com/Russians.htm it's not a commercial website, just devised to help anyone keeping these lovely little tortoises. Good luck

#6 mildredsmam

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 08:59 AM

Shelly is fairly new to us, We believe she is a Horsefield about ten years old. She is 14cm long. We hibernated her this winter( her first time) and all went well until she came out of hibernation. She got an viral infection and had a course of antibiotics at the vet. Her nose was bubbling and she did not eat. Now about six weeks on her infection seems to have cleared and she is eating and fairly active. I have been giving her baths most days and sometimes adding marmite (on the vets advice) Her weight is not going up however which worries me. Yesterday she ate nothing but today is eating. She came out of hibernation at 930g and has now fallen to 840g. How concerned should I be? She is living in the plastic box that she arrived with(73cm x 43cm) and has a warm spot at one end (30 degrees underneath). We sometimes put her in the garden on a warm day but  finds a cold corner and head plants. She does not seem to want to bask in a warm spot to get going but to head for the cold. Although I do not like to see her in a confined space I suspect she does better there than outside. I have never had a tortoise before and am ignorant as to their behaviour, this has been a steep learning curve! Any advice from experienced owners would be very helpful....

Hi William, welcome to the forum. :)

How long have you had her, and how did she seem before hibernation was she eating and active etc, how was it you hibernated her. :)

If you could add a picture of her to the forum this may also help to see if she is a horsfield. :)



#7 william

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 08:11 PM

Shelly is fairly new to us, We believe she is a Horsefield about ten years old. She is 14cm long. We hibernated her this winter( her first time) and all went well until she came out of hibernation. She got an viral infection and had a course of antibiotics at the vet. Her nose was bubbling and she did not eat. Now about six weeks on her infection seems to have cleared and she is eating and fairly active. I have been giving her baths most days and sometimes adding marmite (on the vets advice) Her weight is not going up however which worries me. Yesterday she ate nothing but today is eating. She came out of hibernation at 930g and has now fallen to 840g. How concerned should I be? She is living in the plastic box that she arrived with(73cm x 43cm) and has a warm spot at one end (30 degrees underneath). We sometimes put her in the garden on a warm day but  finds a cold corner and head plants. She does not seem to want to bask in a warm spot to get going but to head for the cold. Although I do not like to see her in a confined space I suspect she does better there than outside. I have never had a tortoise before and am ignorant as to their behaviour, this has been a steep learning curve! Any advice from experienced owners would be very helpful....



#8 william

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 08:19 PM

Dear All, What a great response in my hour of need, thank you. To respond to some of your points. I have definitely been stumbling around here. On coming out of hibernation I had her under under a lamp that she could walk away from and into the cold. She was then under a lamp that was too hot creating a spot nearer fifty degrees. I think now I have it about right with the temperature below the lamp about 30 degrees and about 15 in the colder corners. I have added a uv bulb too recently which I had not realised was important. There is no underfloor heat source. She is on aggregate (small stones and sand mixed) but scrabbles it away a good deal. We have lots of space and I could make her a larger enclosure. What size? I had imagined her living outdoors but am not sure now if that is possible. I know she had been kept inside and not hibernated before she came to us last September. Her weight to length ( looked up on an ancient pamphlet) suggested that she was more than heavy enough to go into hibernation. I think her problems began post hibernation with (as the vet noted in the shaming paperwork)'bad husbandry'! Her feeding habits have been in stages. First she ate a good deal of cucumber (and not much else) and then apple (and not much else) and now seems to like dandelion flowers and leaves with little interest in anything else.I have been trying to tempt her with grated carrot, apple, lettuce, chard, She has taken chunks of cuttlefish and I saw her eating an old piece of lime mortar when she was outside. Is she telling me she needs calcium? I have been relying on a friend who has had two Hermann for twenty years for advice. I copied his hibernation box. Wooden, lined with polystyrene on the inside. Filled with shredded paper. A lid with air holes to allow a little air but no access for mice etc. I had her outside in the autumn for a few weeks and she gradually became less active. My friend rang me when he was putting his into their box and I did as he did. So much for the past. Today she ate well and I have given her two baths in warm water(no Marmite) She takes on about 10 grammes each bath. Is bathing good? Is two baths enough or too much?

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#9 Guest_Barney_*

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Posted 20 April 2015 - 09:55 PM

Hi William

 

cuttlefish is good but limestone flour is an even better source of calcium and is cheap to buy in tubs meant for horses. If you put out a dish of limestone flour she may take some if she needs it. I suggest trying a wider variety of weeds and plantains are a good place to start - they grow in most gardens and hedgerows etc. Most tortoises can be brought onto a better diet over a period of time but of course you do not want your tortoise to lose any more weight. If she was mine I would feed her as much as she wants of any safe weeds that she will eat until she is gaining weight nicely.

 

A site that many of us find useful is the Tortoise Table (http://www.thetortoi...oise_home_1.asp) I notice they have a nice pic of a horsfield up this month to make you feel especially welcome! Spring is a good time to discover lots of tortoise weeds as new ones are appearing all the time. Some garden plants are also good - have a look at the tortoise table site and see what you have growing in your own garden and those of your friends and relatives!

 

Life outside with some help in the form of a shelter, ideally with access to something such as a greenhouse or coldframe should I think be your goal. These animals thrive on outdoor living but I believe horsfields do not do well with damp conditions so she must have access to a dry place. 

 

I still think your tortoise would do better with access to a hotspot of at least 32C. Using a slightly more powerful lamp or changing the height of the one you have should do the trick. In the future when your tortoise is able to spend more time outside she will manage her temperature herself in good weather. 

 

Yes bathing is good unless she is upset by it and any weight gain in the bath is either drinking or water being absorbed by other means. Access to drinking water at all times is essential.

 

You won't need me to tell you that tortoises can be messy creatures!  :) Tipping over water bowls and suchlike is second nature to them.

 

I hope my friends here including those who have kept horsfields will post too. But I think I'm on safe ground with these general suggestions.






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